Ssemanda solid as Uganda hold out for draw

The tourists survive a last-session fightback from the UAE to force a draw in the ICC Intercontinental Shield at the Zayed Stadium.

UAE's Qasim Zubair, centre, appeals for LBW against Uganda at the Zayed Stadium yesterday.
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ABU DHABI // Uganda survived a last-session fightback from the UAE to force a draw in the ICC Intercontinental Shield at the Zayed Stadium. Ronald Ssemanda (22 not out) and Frank Nsubuga (five not out) batted for nearly an hour to finish the final day at 79 for six for the tourists.

The draw gave Uganda six points by virtue of a first-innings lead. Chasing an improbable 270 for victory, Uganda were left reeling at 24 for three in their second innings, with paceman Qasim Zubair (three for 16) taking all three of the top-order wickets. The African side limped to 64 for six after the medium pacers Shoaib Sarwar (two for 20) and Amjad Javed (one for 23) took a further three wickets between them before the seventh-wicket partnership between Ssemanda and Nsubuga prevented an outright win for the hosts.

"The fast bowlers bowled their heart out in the final session," said captain Khurram Khan. "It was still a good wicket to bat but Qasim, Shoaib and Amjad bowled remarkably well to nearly turn the game for us." Earlier in the day, the UAE added 180 runs to their overnight score of 102 for two before declaring their second innings at 282 for nine. Arshad Ali top-scored with 130, hitting 20 boundaries in his 200-ball innings.

The opening batsman shared a 183-run partnership with Saqib Ali, who stroked a 120-ball 77 with 11 fours. Nsubuga was the pick of the Uganda bowlers with three for 100 off 26 overs. "Arshad and Saqib batted superbly, but we lost too many wickets and couldn't get our scoring rate up for an early declaration," Khurram added. "We had to play with safety in mind as we have a game in hand with Bermuda in June. And a first-inning lead from this game may still be enough for us to reach the final."

The top two teams at the end of the round robin league will advance to the final in the four-team competition, with Uganda leading the table and the UAE in second place. Namibia and Bermuda are third and fourth respectively. Uganda's captain, Akbar Baig, said it was the pressure that saw them lose five wickets for 12 runs. "But we were still hopeful of a draw. Both Ronald [Ssemanda] and Frank [Nsubuga] had batted well in the first innings, and we also had two more batsmen left. We were still confident of holding out for a draw," he said.

"We came here with the intention of winning six points against a stronger opponent and we have achieved that. If we can win six more points against Namibia from our next game at home, then we are sure to reach the final." The two teams head to Sharjah for a one-day match tomorrow, followed by two Twenty20 games at the Dubai Sports City on Tuesday and Wednesday.